IN THE latest grants under the Renewal and Reform programme, eight dioceses have been given a total of £10.5 million for projects that seek church growth.
This is the fifth tranche of Strategic Development Funding from the Church Commissioners since the method of distributing funds was changed in 2014 (News, 16 January 2015, 21 October 2016).
Since the shake-up to the funding formula, half of the Commissioners’ money for ministry is reserved for dioceses to bid for, to support new initiatives that will make “a significant difference to their mission and financial health”. So far, £34.6 million has been given to dioceses through this stream.
The dioceses to benefit from the latest grants are Coventry, Guildford, Hereford, London, St Albans, Salisbury, Southwell & Nottingham, and Truro.
Salisbury diocese has been given £1.27 million to spend on boosting rural ministry. The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, said: “On an average Sunday, 40 per cent of those worshipping in the Church of England do so in a rural setting.
“We are delighted that Salisbury is developing as a centre of excellence in which rural ministry and mission is developed and encouraged with imagination and flair.”
The diocese’s scheme will include rural placements for young adults who are considering ordination, a new training pathway with Sarum College to equip ordinands for the specific challenges of ministry in the countryside, and “seed-corn funding” for parishes that wish to launch new mission projects.
The diocese of Hereford has been awarded £525,000 for its project to increase intergenerational mission. The diocese will appoint six new missioners to work with people unconnected to church, and, in particular, the young.
The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Frith, said that the grant was an “encouraging affirmation of our praying, planning, and working for spiritual and numerical growth”.
Truro will use its grant of £1.2 million to renew town-centre churches, beginning with those in Falmouth. The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, said: “We pray and hope that this will lead to a transformation of parochial life, and we will be able to learn from this project so we can encourage other areas of the diocese to flourish and grow. There is a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm.”
The Archbishops’ Council’s director of Renewal and Reform, Mike Eastwood, said: “Renewal and Reform is about a growing Church in and for all people and in and for all places. The hope that each of these projects gives for a positive future for mission and ministry at the local level is inspiring.”
Salisbury’s new funding for rural ministry was announced in the same week as a lobby group, The Rural Collection, chaired by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, warned that the countryside could be left behind after Brexit.